Red Hat releases RHEL 9.2 to customers, with buffet of rebuilds for the rest of us

The Register - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 11:15
Oracle, AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux and EuroLinux all put out same version

Red Hat has released version 9.2 of its enterprise Linux distro, which is free for existing customers with current contracts. As usual, there are a load of recompiled rebuilds to choose from as well.…

Categories: Tech News

Newly discovered exoplanet could have liquid water, lots of volcanoes

ARS Technica - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 11:07
Image of a planet covered in red glowing cracks and spots

Enlarge / An artist's conception of what a volcano-rich exoplanet might look like. (credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith)

For most of the exoplanets we've discovered, we know very few details. We know a bit about the star they orbit and maybe a partial list of other planets in the same system. And we typically know either how large they are or how heavy they are. It's not a lot to go on.

But we can infer a lot when we start combining those details. That's the case for a newly discovered exoplanet orbiting a small star about 90 light-years from Earth. The planet itself has a radius and mass very similar to the Earth's, suggesting it also has a rocky composition. Based on what we know of the star, it can potentially contain liquid water. And, based on the forces exerted by nearby planets, it's likely to have very active geology, potentially including volcanoes.

An extra, extra-solar planet

The exosolar system at the star LP 791-18 was first discovered by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). TESS had spotted two planets orbiting LP 791-18, which is one of the smallest—and thus dimmest—stars known to host planets. The innermost planet, LP 791-18b, is about 20 percent larger than Earth and takes less than a day to complete an orbit, meaning it's close enough to the star to be very hot. Farther out, with a five-day orbit, is LP 791-18c, a sub-Neptune that's more than double Earth's size.

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Twitter claims Microsoft broke API rules; Musk already threatened lawsuit

ARS Technica - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 10:41
Twitter logo is seen on a laptop screen and a smartphone screen.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Christopher Furlong )

Elon Musk's lawyer, Alex Spiro, yesterday sent a letter to Microsoft accusing the company of using the Twitter APIs in ways that violated Twitter policies. Spiro's letter came about a month after Microsoft halted API use instead of paying new fees and Musk threatened to sue Microsoft, claiming it was "illegally using Twitter data."

"As you are no doubt aware, for years, Microsoft has used Twitter's standard developer APIs free of charge in order to benefit from Twitter's data and services in key Microsoft products that generate tens of billions of dollars in revenue for Microsoft annually," Spiro wrote to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "Up until last month, when it declined to pay even a discounted rate for continued access to Twitter's APIs and content, Microsoft operated eight separate Twitter API apps, listed below, which appear to provide data and functionality for at least five separate Microsoft products and services, including Xbox One, Bing Pages, Azure, Power Platform, and Ads."

Twitter—which is facing numerous lawsuits alleging it hasn't paid its bills—is asking Microsoft to complete a compliance audit on its API usage by June 7.

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TikTokers immediately sue to block Montana’s “unconstitutional” ban

ARS Technica - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 10:27
TikTokers immediately sue to block Montana’s “unconstitutional” ban

Enlarge (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Contributor | AFP)

Surprising no one, immediately after Montana became the first state to ban TikTok on Wednesday, five TikTokers in the state with thousands of followers banded together and sued to block the ban. The TikTokers argued that the ban is a huge overstep by the state because it's "unconstitutional and preempted by federal law."

According to their complaint, Montana’s claimed interests in enacting the ban to shield minors and prevent foreign spying "are not legitimate and do not support a blanket ban on TikTok. Montana has no authority to enact laws advancing what it believes should be the United States’ foreign policy or its national security interests, nor may Montana ban an entire forum for communication based on its perceptions that some speech shared through that forum, though protected by the First Amendment, is dangerous."

Citing First Amendment concerns, the TikTokers argued that the ban is "substantially overbroad" and "suppresses far more speech than it may permissibly regulate." They say that restricting access to content for all users just to address concerns that minors may access some TikTok content that's "dangerous" goes too far. The First Amendment requires the government to find the "least restrictive means" of regulating speech when the government does have a "compelling" interest. Quite the opposite, Montana's ban, they argued, is an example of the government finding "the most restrictive means imaginable."

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Categories: Tech News

Samsung backs down from its threat to switch its Android phones to Bing

ARS Technica - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 10:17
The regional headquarters of Samsung in Mountain View, California.

Enlarge / The regional headquarters of Samsung in Mountain View, California. (credit: Getty Images/Smith Collection)

Like most people that try to switch to Bing, Samsung is giving up on the idea after a few weeks. An earlier report from The New York Times said Samsung was considering dumping Google Search on its Android phones in favor of the ChatGPT-powered Bing search engine. A month later, a new report from The Wall Street Journal says that while Samsung "isn’t permanently closing the door on Bing as a future option," it "won’t be swapping out the default search engine on its smartphones from Google to Microsoft’s Bing any time soon."

The report on Samsung's possible switch to Bing came during negotiations between Samsung and Google to re-up their search engine contract, and the idea could have just been a negotiating tactic. These deals usually aren't public, but Google pays big cash piles to Apple and Samsung to make Google Search the default option on their devices. Microsoft's Bing was the butt of jokes for years, but its sudden integration of the red-hot ChatGPT generative AI has suddenly made it interesting. The earlier NYT report detailed Google's "shock" and "panic" when Samsung floated the idea of switching to Bing. There's a good chance that Samsung landed better contract terms.

Whatever happened behind the scenes, the WSJ report says, "Samsung has decided it won’t further internally discuss the matter at this time given concerns over how the switch could be perceived by the market as well as the impact on its wide-ranging business relations with Google." Samsung does have a lot of contact issues to balance with Google. Samsung needs the Play Store and various Google Android apps to make a competitive phone, and that requires signing a contract for Google Play and being buddies with Google. Again, these contracts are secret, but in some regions, following Google's default app preferences means Google will pay companies to use Android. Going against the rules means they will be charged for Android.

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Once again, NASA leans into the future by picking an innovative lunar lander

ARS Technica - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 09:59
An artist's concept of Blue Origin's Blue Moon lunar lander.

Enlarge / An artist's concept of Blue Origin's Blue Moon lunar lander. (credit: Blue Origin)

NASA on Friday announced its selection of Blue Origin to build a second Human Landing System for its Artemis Program to return to the Moon. The space company, founded by Jeff Bezos, will lead the development of a fully reusable lander that could take flight as soon as the end of this decade.

The fixed price contract is worth $3.4 billion, and NASA would like the "Blue Moon" lander to be ready for its Artemis V mission. Nominally, this landing of four astronauts will take place in 2029, but almost certainly, the schedule will slip out into the early 2030s. Blue Origin beat out another bidder, a team led by Dynetics, for the award.

Friday's announcement represents a significant moment for NASA for multiple reasons. Importantly, it adds a second provider of human landing services. Previously, NASA awarded a contract to SpaceX for its Starship vehicle to serve as a lunar lander. That vehicle will be used for NASA's first two lunar landing missions, Artemis III and Artemis IV. So NASA gets the competition it covets, which has been shown to spur commercial development.

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Alibaba plans to spin off cloud division within 12 months

The Register - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 09:45
Approves breakup after missing revenue estimate

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is aiming to spin off its cloud business within 12 months.…

Categories: Tech News

How “nazi glorification” became one of Garry’s Mod’s few prohibited acts

ARS Technica - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 09:42
A scene from a <em>Garry's Mod</em> server or a WWII documentary? Who can say, really?

Enlarge / A scene from a Garry's Mod server or a WWII documentary? Who can say, really? (credit: ModDB / Garry's Mod)

In the realm of online game moderation, the official Server Operator Rules for Source Engine physics sandbox Garry's Mod have always been pretty forgiving. For a long time, the only things that could get a server explicitly "blacklisted" by developer Facepunch Studios were sexual violence, unmarked NSFW content, fraudulent server information, or "malicious actions" that essentially hacked a player's local game installation.

On April 20, those scant rules were updated with one more specific prohibition: "Display of swastikas, the nazi salute or other glorification of nazism is prohibited, even for 'roleplay' purposes."

That new rule represents a change of heart for Garry's Mod creator Garry Newman, who told Ars his outlook on what should and shouldn't be allowed in online spaces has changed since he became a parent to two children (currently 9 and 6 years old).

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Fearing leaks, Apple restricts its employees from using ChatGPT and AI tools

ARS Technica - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 09:16
An AI-generated cartoon depiction of a chatbot being crossed-out.

Enlarge / An AI-generated cartoon depiction of a chatbot being crossed out. (credit: Benj Edwards / Stable Diffusion)

According to internal sources and company documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Apple has restricted its employees' use of ChatGPT and AI coding tools such as GitHub Copilot for fear of leaking confidential data to outside sources. Meanwhile, Apple is also reportedly developing similar AI technology.

ChatGPT is a conversational large language model (LLM) developed by Microsoft-backed OpenAI that is capable of tasks ranging from answering questions and writing essays to assisting with programming chores. Currently, the ChatGPT AI model only runs on OpenAI or Microsoft servers and is accessible through the Internet.

Apple's decision to limit the use of external AI tools stems from a concern that confidential data could be exposed due to the nature of these AI models, which send user data back to developers for cloud processing and assistance in future AI model improvements.

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Kia and Hyundai agree to $200M settlement for making cars viral theft targets

ARS Technica - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 09:14
Hyundai with its steering column broken open.

Enlarge / We used this image of an Ars staffer's stolen Hyundai to illustrate how common the thefts were in February 2022. Since then, one of this author's neighbors had a Kia broken into, and another had a joyride Hyundai ditched on his lawn after crashing through his fence. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Hyundai and Kia will pay out $200 million in a class-action lawsuit settlement, compensating roughly 9 million people for their losses after a 2022 social media trend revealed how relatively simple it was to steal certain models.

As reported by Reuters, $145 million of the payout goes to the out-of-pocket expenses of those whose cars were stolen. Many Kias made between 2011-2021, and Hyundais from 2015-2021, lacked electronic engine immobilizers, which would prevent a car from starting unless an electronically matched key was present. Without the immobilizer, the car could be started by turning the ignition with other objects, such as a USB-A cable that thieves discovered was a perfect fit.

Customers whose cars were totaled are eligible for up to $6,125, while damaged vehicles and property can receive a maximum of $3,375, along with costs for raised insurance, car rental, towing, tickets, and others. Kia and Hyundai had previously pledged to provide free software upgrades to vehicles and free wheel locks (i.e. The Club), typically in coordination with regional police departments. The NHTSA said in February that the companies have given out 26,000 wheel locks since November 2022.

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The Beer Ad Culture War Is Killing Me Inside

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 08:47

I would have known that Bud Light and Miller Lite existed whether they recently put out ads or not. I would have gone to my local grocery store, gas station, or Walgreens and picked out an 18-rack of whatever was on sale that suited my palate—which, as my allegiance to sale prices probably suggests, isn’t terribly refined. And frankly, the next time I buy a case of beer, I’ll likely do just the same.

But now, my purchases are burdened: by the risk of appearing as though I’m making a political statement, by the potential of contributing to some “boycott” I don’t care about, by the possibility of seeming cringe. I’m not trying to make any political statement; I’m just trying to drink some beer. So why do major beer companies continuously muddle their already-solid brand awareness with their advertising?

That’s what happened recently with Bud Light, America’s most popular beer, and their partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The company paid Mulvaney for a sponsored post on her Instagram feed, where she promoted a March Madness-related giveaway. Soon after, Bud Light also sent Mulvaney a custom tall boy can with her face printed on it. Both instances appear to be one-offs, brief attempts to highlight the brand before Mulvaney’s audience alone—a noteworthy 1.8 million followers on Instagram, on par with celebrities and influencers like David Chang or Julia Fox but still a fraction of the following of, say, the second-most-famous D’Amelio sister.

Those posts might have passed on in the news cycle with nothing more than a few angry, transphobic tweets if it weren’t for a podcast appearance from Bud Light’s VP of marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, explaining a broader rebrand of the company. “We had this hangover. I mean, Bud Light had been kind of a brand of fratty, kind of out-of-touch humor, and it was really important that we had another approach,” she said on the “Make Yourself at Home” podcast in March. Suddenly part of a broader conspiracy, this one-time sponsored post from a trans influencer ballooned into an all-out culture war, with national news outlets reporting on the drama and the boycott built around it.

A month earlier, Miller Lite, one of Bud Light’s biggest competitors, unveiled a campaign featuring actress and comedian Ilana Glazer, who notes the under-discussed history of women in beer brewing and the sexualized portrayal of women in advertising. “How did the industry pay homage to the founding mothers of beer? By putting us in bikinis,” Glazer says before introducing Miller Lite’s new program of buying up old sexy beer ads and turning them into compost. This compost will then be used to make hops (by women hop farmers, it’s implied), which will then be donated to female brewers to make beer. “Bad shit to good shit,” the ad proclaims. (The link in the commercial now redirects to the Miller Lite homepage, with no evidence of this actually being a campaign.) As it recirculated this week, the ad promoted a new round of outrage, mainly among those already upset by Bud Light’s advertising, and further centered big-name beer as fodder for the culture war.

Look, getting upset about a beer ad is stupid. But the Miller Lite spot is obnoxious, too. Is anyone really mad about bikini-clad women in beer ads? I’m certainly not. In 2021, it was a major trend for women to take sexy photos of themselves, edit them to look like beer ads, and give them to their boyfriends. Not only do plenty of women not want old beer posters destroyed, but we also want new ones so bad we’re making them ourselves. The Miller ad implies that if you have one of these old-school ads, you’re part of this alleged history of “bad shit.” If that’s you, even if you are totally in support of trans rights or honoring the tradition of women in beer brewing, why would you want to spend your money on a company that tells you you’re an out-of-touch scumbag?

Boycotts of these brands have seemingly impacted stock prices, but it remains far from the “go woke, go broke” story some are pushing. Still, these ads aren’t driving seismic waves of sales. If not to make more money, then why the fuck are these companies producing them?

One popular conservative theory is that major corporations are focused on improving their score in the Corporate Equality Index, a Human Rights Campaign project that ranks companies based on social responsibility, workplace culture benefits for LGBTQ+ employees, and non-discrimination policies supposedly favored by major monolithic investment firms like Blackrock that represent top shareholders. Alternatively, these controversies may be a modern test of the idea that all press is good. Maybe they’re even just purely well-intentioned attempts at inclusivity. In any case, the Miller Lite ad and quotes from Heinerscheid’s podcast appearance certainly suggest that companies believe beer should convey messaging beyond “this tastes great.”

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with a brand like Bud Light using Mulvaney to promote their product before her audience, nor is it bad that Miller Lite wants to emphasize female brewers. The issue is the brands framing these moves as a major culture shift. In the case of Miller Lite, perhaps the only people talking about it are people on the right, but there’s no evidence that anyone seems to like the ad much at all. They’re also turning off those of us, leftists or otherwise, who don’t want to be labeled by what beer we drink or whether we like vintage bikini posters. And that’s what is so frustrating about the ads and the controversy they’ve generated—they’d be better off not existing. I’d know about these beers whether their names were blasted on the walls of a stadium or shown in glossy television commercials or not. Their brand recognition was already entirely solid. Now, however, we’re in this place where an advertisement for beer functions as a political litmus test that none of us asked to participate in. But that’s just what the culture war does. It transforms something easy and fun and lighthearted into something to fight over. Can’t I just enjoy my cheap, watery beer in peace?

Categories: Tech News

Apple becomes the latest company to ban ChatGPT for internal use

The Register - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 08:15
Didn't stop OpenAI rolling out iOS ChatGPT app, just made things a bit awkward

Apple has become the latest company to ban internal use of ChatGPT and similar products, ironically just as the OpenAI chatbot comes to iOS in the form of a mobile app. …

Categories: Tech News

CYBER: Crime and Crypto with Cory Doctorow

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 07:12

Crypto and crime, crime and crypto. They go together like spreadsheets and tax evasion. When cryptocurrency hit the scene it was, according to its evangelists, going to usher in a world of decentralized currency and free everyone from the shackles of oppressive central banks. Turns out it’s also been a pretty great way to launder money.

It’s also the subject of the new book Red Team Blues, a novel from writer Cory Doctorow. In Red Team Blues a 67 year old forensic accountant finds himself at the center of a crypto-crime mystery that takes him from the heights of silicon valley to the depths of the Tenderloin. This week on Cyber, Doctorow walks us through a brief history of the valley and why he wrote three books about an old accountant during the pandemic.

Doctorow is the author of more than two dozen books and too many articles to count. He’s currently blogging at

We’re recording CYBER live on Twitch and YouTube. Watch live during the week. Follow us there to get alerts when we go live. We take questions from the audience and yours might just end up on the show. 

Subscribe to CYBER on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Categories: Tech News

Don’t get an epidural in Mexico, CDC warns—40 dead, including 1 Texan

ARS Technica - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 07:00
Don’t get an epidural in Mexico, CDC warns—40 dead, including 1 Texan

Enlarge (credit: Getty | BSIP)

At least five people in Texas have been hospitalized with suspected fungal infections in their brains and spinal cords that developed after traveling to Mexico for cosmetic surgeries involving epidural anesthesia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned this week.

One of the Texans has died and the other four remain hospitalized in the state, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported this week.

All five patients traveled from Texas to Matamoros, Mexico—across the border from Brownsville, Texas—where they had cosmetic surgeries, including liposuction, in at least two clinics: River Side Surgical Center and Clinica K-3. State and federal health officials are investigating the outbreak, which could identify additional cases and clinics. According to local media in Mexico, both clinics have been shuttered by health officials.

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More Than Half of Users Have Seen Extremist Content in Online Games

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 06:55

The video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons is supposed to be a bucolic, adorable utopia where the player's chief concerns typically include catching butterflies, designing clothes to sell in an online marketplace, and landscaping their islands to impress visitors.

On one recent day, an Animal Crossing player took to Twitter to complain about an upsetting incident. They’d unwittingly welcomed two visitors, whose avatars appeared dressed in KKK robes and a T-shirt emblazoned with a swastika, onto their island. 

Animal Crossing is widely considered a “sandbox game”, meaning players are given a lot of freedom to build their own worlds—and in some cases, create their extremist fantasies, which they seek to lure others into. 

That’s just one way extremists use gaming spaces to spread their propaganda, and reach, radicalize, and recruit young followers, according to a new report by New York University. 

Screen Shot 2023-05-19 at 9.14.38 AM.pngAn image from the new report.

The report makes clear that they are not suggesting in any way that playing video games is itself a gateway to violence or radicalization. Instead, they’re arguing that inadequate moderation has made multiplayer games and gaming platforms, such as Discord or Twitch,  fertile ground for extremism. 

A survey of 1,128 gamers in the U.S., UK, France, Germany and Korea found that 51% reported encountering some form of extremist statement or narrative while playing multiplayer games in the last year. 

Players under the age of 18 were more likely to encounter statements promoting white supremacy, genocide or political violence, than their adult counterparts, the survey found. 

Extremists have long manipulated video games and gaming culture, but the report offers some fresh insight into the scope and persistence of the problem, and outlines the different ways that gaming spaces are used by extremists. Some extremist groups make their own video games, and others use modding to hijack video game narratives. In-game chat functions allow extremists to reach potential recruits, as do video game platforms such as Discord and Twitch. And finally, extremists have also co-opted video game aesthetics and tropes to broaden their appeal and promote violence in real-life contexts. 

The authors of the report argue that the gaming industry needs to act fast: suggestions they make include hiring more human moderators and improving AI tools that can identify extremist content in real time during voice chats. This is urgent because the video game industry is enjoying a significant boom, and its worlds are becoming ever more complex, especially with the expansion of immersive virtual reality. 

GamerGate in 2014, which is seen as being one of the precursors to the emergence of the “alt-right”, drew attention to toxic, misogynistic, violent gaming subculture. Around that time, reports also highlighted how ISIS were integrating video games aesthetics into their propaganda to draw in new recruits from around the world. 

In 2019, the white supremacist who attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, peppered his attack and manifesto with references to popular video games. He live streamed his deadly attack, which left 51 dead, in a way that resembled the perspective in a first-person shooter game. 

An investigation into the massacre by New Zealand’s government found that the shooter was enmeshed in a community of online gamers where he spread his racist, extremist propaganda, and regularly engaged in role-playing and first-person shooter online games. The shooter’s stylistic flourishes and references to gaming were quickly co-opted by copycats in Poway, California and Halle, Germany. Online extremists cheered those attacks on as they unfolded, urging each to outdo one another with their “high score” — by which they meant the number of people killed. 

The report found that this has continued to be a “trend” among mass shooters. The white nationalist who targeted Black supermarket shoppers in Buffalo, New York, last year kept a diary on the gaming platform Discord, and invited a select group from that community to watch the livestream of his attack on Twitch. 

Extremists in gaming communities aren’t only looking to radicalize and recruit other gamers—they’re making those spaces less safe in other ways. The report also found that 34 percent of multiplayer gamers across the US, UK, France, Germany, and Korea reported experiencing “severe harassment” in the last year, defined as “stalking, hate-raiding, sexual harassment, violent threats, doxing or swatting.”

Categories: Tech News

Many of world’s biggest lakes in peril due to warming, drying climate

ARS Technica - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 06:46
boat on dry lake bed

Enlarge / Aerial view of an abandoned boat on a desert at the site of former Lake Poopó, near Punaca Tinta Maria, Bolivia, taken on October 15, 2022. (credit: Martin Silva/AFP via Getty Images)

Water storage in many of the world’s biggest lakes has declined sharply in the last 30 years, according to a new study, with a cumulative drop of about 21.5 gigatons per year, an amount equal to the annual water consumption of the United States.

The loss of water in natural lakes can “largely be attributed to climate warming,” a team of scientists said as they published research today in Science that analyzed satellite data from 1,980 lakes and reservoirs between 1992 and 2020. When they combined the satellite images with climate data and hydrological models, they found “significant storage declines” in more than half of the bodies of water.

The combination of information from different sources also enabled the scientists to determine if the declines are related to climate factors, like increased evaporation and reduced river flows, or other impacts, including water diversions for agriculture or cities. A quarter of the world’s population lives in basins where lakes are drying up, they warned.

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Nvidia's RTX 4060 and 4060TI are actually priced like mid-tier cards

The Register - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 06:42
Maybe Jensen finally got the memo about the whole GPU shortage being over

Nvidia appears to have come to its senses with the launch of the RTX 4060 and 4060TI on Thursday.…

Categories: Tech News

The GOP Is Officially the Party of Righteous Violence

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 06:38

This content comes from the latest installment of our weekly Breaking the Vote newsletter out of VICE News’ D.C. bureau, tracking the ongoing efforts to undermine the democratic process in America. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday.

Perpetuum vigilante

Jordan Neely’s funeral will be held today in Harlem. 

On May 1, Daniel Penny, an ex-Marine, placed Neely, who was homeless, in a chokehold as Neely was behaving erratically toward other riders on the New York City subway. Neely asphyxiated and died, and now Penny is charged with second degree manslaughter. But Neely, like other vigilantes Kyle Rittenhouse in Wisconsin and Daniel Perry in Texas, has become a hero on the right. He’s gotten praise from GOP politicians and received over $2 million in donations for his legal defense after appeals on right-wing media. 

The whole thing got me thinking about violence, impunity, and democracy. So I called up New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie, who’s been writing about white vigilantism and the right. Our conversation has been edited for length. 

This vigilante violence isn’t new but the celebration of it on the national scene as a sort of a political identifier is kind of new. What do you think is going on here?

Yeah, what’s new is the extent that it’s migrated into national partisan politics. And respectable political figures celebrating it is quite new. This is politicians simply following where their voters are. And one thing that has certainly been true in the last half decade is how the conservative media consumer (aka the GOP base), has moved to having these fantasies of a cleansing violence. That means attacking protesters or running them down with their cars, for example. In the wake of the George Floyd protests, some Republican legislatures passed bills that made it not a crime to run over a protester with your car. 

Actual disorder is localized and relatively uncommon. But conservative media is constantly broadcasting images of disorder and mayhem. The message is that this is all the result of the “the left.” Now there are many Americans who sincerely believe that in 2020 entire cities were burned to the ground, or were “no-go zones.” Taken together, it’s inculcated a sense that it’s either us or them, and using violence against “them” is a totally acceptable response. 

For me what rings through is impunity. Daniel Perry deserves impunity. Daniel Penny deserves impunity and money. The entire apparatus of the House Republican Conference is geared toward impunity for Jan. 6, and certainly for Trump.

There’s a belief that it’s not just wrong to try to hold these people accountable, that it’s illegitimate to do so. Because in their minds they did nothing wrong. And this gets back to the original idea about order. Whether it’s vigilante actors in the streets or Jan. 6 rioters, they see themselves and their supporters see them as upholding the proper order of things. So to hold them accountable is illegitimate because it’s favoring disorder. 

It seems like rioting to overthrow an election, and organizing to overthrow it, is the disorder!

And in the New York subway case, to me the disorder is choking someone to death. New York has a real homelessness problem, and the fact that the city and the state has failed to address homelessness and mental illness is a real thing. Being in a subway car with an aggressive homeless person is unsettling. And yet, lethal force and violence is a dramatic line to cross. That fundamentally changes the social order. To my mind, the choking to death is the really disordered thing here. Many people don’t perceive it that way.  

Vigilante violence on a subway is something different than political violence in a “stolen election.” But what do you think the risk is for democracy?

American electoral democracy has coexisted pretty comfortably with dramatic violence over the course of history. The time I always refer back to is Reconstruction, where there is pervasive violence related directly to elections. People assaulting registrars, assaulting and killing voters, etc. For a long time after the 1960’s we’ve had very little. Now, things like the subway choking or vigilante killings have a political valence, even if they’re not overtly around politics. And there’s a risk that acceptance for politically identified vigilante violence opens up space for electoral violence. Both are bad. But both can coexist in a big country in a way that doesn’t bear on a typical person’s experience in an election. Sporadic political violence is really the norm in America, and we may have lived through the exception. 

It’s strange to feel like there’s more political violence coming but maybe we can live it. 

This is clarifying. If the violence is sporadic and inchoate I don’t necessarily think it has much of an impact. But if it’s specific and targeted at particular groups and classes of people, then that can begin to really raise the stakes in a dangerous way for democracy. Especially if it’s not addressed and prosecuted, it can degrade the citizenship of those other people. This is what happens in Reconstruction. Unpunished violence against Black people raises the stakes in elections but also just degrades the citizenship of Black Americans in the South. 

I was wondering how we were going to get from subway violence and anti-protester violence to accountability for the coup attempt and I think we just I think we just tied them together.

I’ve written about this. When people commit violence with impunity, it creates the conditions for more violence. Jan. 6, is an interesting case because the actual people on the ground have been held legally accountable, but the political leaders responsible, so far, have been able to go about their merry way. And I think that’s a sign of how American political culture doesn’t really know how to deal with that type of thing, and never has. You know, the leaders of the Confederacy mostly died at home, in their beds. Not in prison, not exiled, not kicked out of politics, but just peacefully at home. And this country has a very difficult time dealing with erstwhile legitimate political actors who attempt to overturn the system. And so that says to me, from the subway to Jan. 6, there’s a lot at stake here.

There’s probably a lot more accountability to come this summer. Don’t miss a charge! Sign your friends up for Breaking the Vote!

unnamed (2) (1).jpg Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations, speaks at the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, US, on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations, speaks at the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, US, on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A Nikki wicket

Former South Carolina Governor and GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley made news in Iowa yesterday with this bold statement about Jan. 6: “It was not a beautiful day, it was a terrible day, and we don’t ever want that to happen again.” Haley added that rioters and other lawbreakers should “pay the price.” The comments were widely reported as an oblique attack on primary frontrunner Donald Trump, which is exactly what they were. 

Of course, what’s most notable about Haley’s comments is how unremarkable they should be. “Jan. 6 was bad, not beautiful” and “lawbreakers should be punished” are banal and basic statements for any non-sociopathic politician (or person) interested in the governance of lawfulness. For the Trumpist GOP, they’re fightin’ words. Tells you an awful lot! 



Donald Trump did a lot more than insult a woman moderator and lie his ass off during last week’s CNN “town hall.” He also might have admitted to a crime! 

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released 16 documents to Special Counsel Jack Smith as part of the Mar-a-Lago docs probe. On Tuesday the agency told Trump the docs show that he and his advisors were made aware of the proper procedures for handling or declassifying documents. That could be important as the Special Counsel investigates whether Trump knowingly mishandled defense materials, a possible crime under the Espionage Act. In short, it goes directly to Trump’s intent to take the documents, before even getting to the question of possible obstruction.

One of Trump’s lawyers, Timothy Parlatore, wrote to Congress last month arguing that aides “quickly packed everything into boxes and shipped them to Florida” at the end of Trump’s presidency and that Trump had no intention of taking documents. On CNN, in front of 3 million live viewers that probably included a few prosecutors, Trump had a different view. 

“I took the documents,” Trump said. “I’m allowed to.”

By the way, Parlatore quit Trump’s legal team this week. 

It’s just motions taking me over

Fulton County DA Fani Willis made it clear she controls all our summers when she set mid-July as the time she could announce charges in the Georgia election case. In the meantime, she’s filing motions trying to get Judge Robert McBurney to bat away Trump’s efforts to quash both the reports and evidence that came out of the Special Purpose Grand Jury. 

Sued oft Giuliani

Add Noelle Dunphy to Rudolph Giuliani’s long list of lingering legal liabilities. Rudy’s former employee says he cheated her out of nearly $2 million in promised wages, while sexually coercing her and filling the workplace with sexist, racist, and antisemitic remarks. She’s suing, and says she has tapes. 

Rudy denies all the allegations. But it adds just another legal headache for Trump’s former personal lawyer: He’s being sued for defamation by voting machine companies Dominion and Smartmatic, and by former Georgia election workers Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman. He’s a target in the Fulton County criminal election probe, and could also be implicated in the federal Special Counsel investigation of the coup attempt. 

Oh, yeah, and the guy who Giuliani claimed assaulted him, after he patted Rudy on the back and called him a “scumbag,” also sued him this week for a cool $2 million.  

Dunphy, who’s asking for $10 million in damages, also says she witnessed Rudy try to sell pardons for $2 million a pop at the end of Trump’s presidency. Investigators have known about that allegation since early 2021.

How can you Nazi this?

You already know that Rep. Paul Gosar is associated with Trump dining companion and white nationalist and Nick Fuentes. Now read all about how Gosar’s digital director is a major online supporter of the neo-Nazi leader who attended both the 2017 “Unite the Right” Charlottesville rally and Jan. 6. Wade Searle is a major influencer for Fuentes, “posting extremist, anti-Semitic, racist, and anti-vaccine content,” according to Talking Points Memo. 

As of this writing, Searle is still a staffer in good standing in Gosar’s office and has faced no repercussions for being exposed as a white supremacist influencer. 

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“Hi fascists! No one likes you. You’ve all got different types of pants on. Cargo pants are out!”

— An anonymous cyclist stopping by a recent rally of the neo-Nazi Patriot Front in Washington, D.C. 

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Supreme beating — One of the only judges who supported Trump’s stolen-election claims in 2020 lost her bid to run for Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court this week. Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough lost the GOP primary for November’s Supreme Court race to Montgomery County Judge Carolyn Carlucci on Tuesday. McCullough halted the certification of Pennsylvania’s presidential vote in November, 2020, before that move was unanimously reversed by the state Supreme Court. She had the backing of failed PA governor candidate and election conspiracy theorist Doug Mastriano.

Kentucky lies lickin’ —  Meanwhile, in Kentucky, an election-defending GOP Secretary of State easily fended off Trumpist conspiracists in the SoS primary. Incumbent Sec. Michael Adams expanded voting access alongside Kentucky’s Dem governor and refused to bend to the state’s significant contingent of GOP election deniers. He defeated Stephen Knipper, who ran on a platform of voting machine fraud, vote manipulation, and 2020 conspiracy theories. 

“The other lesson I’ve learned… is if you feed the tiger, it still eats you. If you cave and get into these conspiracy theories, all it does is validate them. I’m not going to fall for that,” Adams said

Laking claim — Losing GOP governor candidate Kari Lake was back in Arizona court, in her second effort to overturn her defeat in the 2022 midterms After killing all of her other election-related claims, a Maricopa county judge let Lake go to trial on the narrow claim that county election officials didn’t to any signature verification on 274,000 ballots. The judge put a super high bar on Lake’s claims, and it… hasn’t gone great. Even Lake’s own witnesses have acknowledged they participated in signature verification like they were trained to do. It’s a bench trial, meaning no jury. 

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The truth about Russia, Trump, and the 2016 election.


‘Succession’ provided us with a hellscape election scenario. How real was it?


The courts should be more political, not less.


Categories: Tech News

How Space Companies Plan to Build Roads and Bases on the Moon

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 06:00

Science fiction is filled with dazzling cities constructed on the Moon and Mars, but it will be a huge challenge to bring these extraterrestrial bases into reality. Nonetheless, the dream of establishing a long-term human presence on the Moon has been gaining momentum, especially as NASA and its partners prepare to return astronauts to the lunar surface this decade as part of the Artemis program.

As part of the effort to deliver on this vision, space experts from a wide variety of fields convened in Washington DC this week for the 2023 Humans to Mars Summit (H2M), an annual conference on human space exploration organized by the nonprofit Explore Mars. Though the conference is named for the red planet, many of the panels also explored the human future on the Moon, which is seen by NASA and others as a gateway to Mars, and other locations in deep space.

Government agencies still dominate lunar exploration, but private space companies are increasingly developing their own strategies for constructing infrastructure on the Moon. For instance, a H2M panel on Wednesday entitled “Civil Engineering and Construction on the Moon and Mars” showcased plans from the companies ICON and Astroport to build roads, launchpads, and other buildings on the lunar surface.

Melodie Yasher, who serves as vice president of building design and performance at ICON, previewed her company’s vision of lunar infrastructure based on 3D-printing and additive manufacturing technologies. ICON has already constructed a range of homes and buildings on Earth with 3D-printing, and ultimately aims to extend their business to the Moon, with NASA’s support.

“We’re thinking about how we can use and leverage additive manufacturing technologies to create surface infrastructure on the Moon, and eventually Mars,” Yashar said in her presentation.  

“We're looking into how to create, first, horizontal construction elements such as landing pads and roadways, and then eventually thinking about how we can develop vertical construction elements” such as “unpressurized structures and eventually, habitats that are pressurized and certified for human occupancy,” she added.

ICON plans to use lunar dirt, known as regolith, as a resource to manufacture a wide range of infrastructure projects on the Moon with a single robotic 3D-printing system. In 2022, the company won a $57.2 million Small Business Innovation Research contract from NASA to develop its lunar construction techniques. ICON also 3D-printed a habitat called Mars Dune Alpha at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Next month, a group of four volunteers will move into the simulated Mars base and live there for an entire year as a way to prepare for eventual human missions to Mars.

“We're very excited to see what the results of that mission yield and how it establishes standards and guidelines for future long duration missions,” Yashar said.

Later in the same panel, Sam Ximenes, founder and CEO of XArc Exploration Architecture Corporation, also offered a sneak peek of the lunar technologies in development at the XArc subsidiary Astroport. Ximenes and his colleagues at Astroport are focused on making Moon bricks out of lunar regolith that can be used to construct landing pads, as part of their “Lunatron” bricklayer vision. 

“Bricks are a basic building material here on Earth that are used in all kinds of applications from roads, to foundations, to structures,” Ximenes said. “We've been able to make the bricks in a vacuum” which is “very important because we have to be able to prove that we can work in the same environment as on the Moon.” 

Astroport is working with researchers at the University of Texas, San Antonio, to invent an induction furnace nozzle that heats up lunar regolith so that it can melt, then solidify, into bricks. A number of specialized robots would then assemble the materials into landing pads that can accommodate robotic and crewed missions to the Moon’s surface. In addition to the company’s work on lunar technologies, it has also created concepts for future human missions to Mars.

The extraterrestrial infrastructure envisioned by the companies has been beautifully visualized in concept art and videos, but these projects are still in the development phase and could take decades to materialize, assuming they do at all. Even so, the presentations this week at H2M provide a glimpse of a possible future that places humans back on the Moon and, eventually, onward to Mars.

Categories: Tech News

Lexus’ 2023 RZ 450e disappoints, offering poor EV range and a bumpy ride

ARS Technica - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 05:43
A 2023 Lexus RZ 450e

Enlarge / This is Lexus' first battery-electric car, the RZ 450e. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

When Lexus started building luxury cars at the end of the 1980s, it took the rest of the auto industry a bit by surprise. Toyota wanted to show off that it could build the best car in the world, and the original Lexus LS400 was a credible effort to do just that. Three decades on, Lexus now has its first battery-electric vehicle. BEVs are Lexus' future—it wants to sell a million of them by 2030, starting with this car, the 2023 RZ 450e. But don't expect this electric Lexus to make the same kind of splash as the LS400 did—this is not a car that's going to challenge for best in class.

It is fair to say that the industry-wide shift to battery-electric vehicles has caught out the world's largest automaker. Toyota was an early front-runner when it came to electrification with hybrid powertrains—the Prius is now in its sixth iteration and has sold millions—but it has been much more cautious when it comes to BEVs. There was an early dalliance with the RAV4 EV, which showed up in small numbers in the US before being cancelled in 2002, and then not much until very recently. Now Toyota has developed its first modern BEV, using lithium-ion (rather than nickel-metal hydride), called the bZ4x. There's a badge-engineered Subaru version, too, and this Lexus variant as well.


Instead of starting with a clean-sheet design, like rival Volkswagen Group, Toyota decided to modify its existing modular vehicle architecture (called TNGA) to allow it to make BEVs (the new architecture is known as e-TNGA). I was going to write that it's a relatively small crossover by 2023 standards until I checked the dimensions against other EVs; at 189.2 inches (4,806 mm) it's actually longer than a Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4, or Jaguar I-Pace—perhaps the RZ 450e's closest spiritual competitor. (It's a pretty average 74 inches/1,880 mm wide and 64.4 inches/1,636 mm tall.)

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Categories: Tech News